Anti-Doi Suthep housing project groups rally to pressure government

Carrying little green flags or tying green ribbons on the handles of their bicycles or crash helmets, hundreds of opponents against the Doi Suthep housing project of judges and judicial officials rallied at Tha Pae city gate of the northern province of Chiang Mai today to demand a clear commitment from the government as to when the project will be scrapped.

The protesters, representing several environment and civic groups, came from different provinces besides Chiang Mai.  They first converged at four corners of this popular tourist destination and then marched or biked toward the rallying point at Tha Pae city gate.

Arnat Klangvichien, head of the Love Chiang Mai community network, told the media that their demonstration today was intended to pressure the government to come up with an exact date in writing when  judicial officials of Region 5 Apeals Court will move out of the condominium units on Doi Suthep mountain and when all the construction structures, including all the condominium buildings and housing units, will be demolished so the land plot can be returned to the Treasury Department.

Nikhom Putsa, head of the Mae Ping river basin conservation group, said his group joined the protest procession to show their respect for Doi Suthep and the divine spirit of the mountain which is revered by Chiang Mai people.

The event today is regarded as the biggest ever held by environment and civic groups against the judges’ housing project in five months since they last rallied to demand a halt of the construction of the project and to restore the land plot to its original condition.

The stiff resistance of the Chiang Mai residents against the project which also includes the office building of the Region 5 Appeals Court prompted to government to intervene to work out a compromise between the protesters and the Office of the Judicial Affairs.

The Office of the Judicial Affairs agreed to move out and to find a new land plot for the project.  But while alternative accommodation for the judges and judicial officials is not available yet, judicial officials have been staying at the condominium units.


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